Dave Elliott: ‘I feel like I’m betraying my family’ - the Bangor comedian on using family life as fodder for his new Roleplay tour

David Roy chats to Bangor-based comedian Dave Elliott about his new stand-up tour, Roleplay, and recent cameo in the hit BBC series Blue Lights

Stand-up comedian Dave Elliott
The Bangor-based comedian is out on tour (Kelvin Boyes)

“THE feedback so far has been really nice,” enthuses Dave Elliott of his ongoing Roleplay tour, which kicked off in Belfast last weekend with a pair of dates at the Lyric Theatre’s Naughton Studio and will visit The Old Courthouse Theatre in Antrim this evening.

“It was the first time I’ve done the Lyric,” he tells me.

“On the Friday night, I felt I went over [time] a wee bit, so then on the Saturday I was trying to trim it back a bit to just under an hour. But it actually ended up being the exact same length.

“So, a couple of bits just need trimmed - but other than that, I was happy with it. I’m excited to get going again.”

Dave is a man who knows all about having to maintain tight schedules. As its title suggests, his current show finds the full-time comedian and father-of-two mining the trials and tribulations of juggling domestic responsibilities as a dad/husband/domestic servant/handyman with his professional life as a stand-up, podcaster and aspiring actor, plus coming to terms with the steadily encroaching physical decrepitude of middle-age.

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“With the last tour I did, I kind of found that I do have quite a mixed range of ages coming to my shows,” explains the host of the Sly Guy podcast, who you may recognise from his TV appearances on BBC NI’s The Blame Game and the second series of Blue Lights (more about that in a moment).

“So I do try to make sure there’ll be something in my set that will appeal to all ages, to make it as kind of relatable as I can. Everything is told from my perspective, but wives or girlfriends will be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, my partner is like that’, or parents might think, ‘Well, my son’s like that.’

“It’s nice to see [that kind of a mixed audience] but then there’s the odd time with some of the topics you’re talking about where you just think, ‘Oh no, how’s this going to go down?’”

A routine about an embarrassing erotic fantasy involving Rihanna springs immediately to mind, as do a couple of jokes in which Dave suggests that he might be regretting the whole marriage and fatherhood thing - not that we or, indeed, his family should to take everything that’s said in his set literally, of course.

“I’ve always tried to do observational stuff, but I’ve definitely found that the stuff that’s most right for my sense of humour has come since I’ve had kids,” admits the comedian, whose wife is an NHS nurse.

Poster for Dave Elliott's Roleplay tour
Dave Elliott's Roleplay tour is coming to a venue near you

“With doing stand-up full time, I am also the primary carer of my kids most of the time during the week. I would be very much ‘write what you know’, so that’s where I get the most inspiration from - life with kids and how parents behave.”

While some parents will certainly feel ‘seen’ by a joke in which Dave struggles with how to avoid telling one of his pre-teen daughters that her dance routine which he’s just sat through was really, really awful, apparently this ‘bit’ may now have to be retired from his set.

“I almost feel a wee bit like I’m betraying them with all the stuff I’m saying about them onstage,” explains the stand-up.

“And the irony is that my eldest daughter was in her first dance competition there on Sunday and actually won. So now I feel bad that I’m just fully lying about her abilities in the show.”

Shane Todd meets Dave Elliott's first-born daughter, Holly
Shane Todd meets Dave Elliott's first-born daughter, Holly

Working out how best to blur the edges between facts and funny will be familiar to many stand-ups drawing upon home life for inspiration. I wondered how Dave’s better half feels about their private life becoming fodder for his stage antics.

“She’s brilliant about it,” he tells me.

“At the same time, I know - and she knows that I know - that if I was airing stuff that was entirely truthful, she wouldn’t be long in getting rid of me. But there’s never been anything where she’s said ‘no, I don’t want you talking about that.”

Despite the fact that the couple actually met at one of Dave’s gigs, it seems that his partner is actually a self-confessed comedy sceptic.

“She is supportive of what I’m doing, but she’s a nurse and her mind is very factual,” he explains.

“So she wouldn’t be too fussed on some of the silliness of comedy, and would openly say that she doesn’t like stand-up. She’ll only actually come to my bigger gigs just because it’s a night out.”

Those familiar with Dave as a comedian will have done a double-take when he popped up in an episode of Blue Lights earlier this year. The physically imposing funnyman enjoyed a memorable supporting turn as a mentally anguished man smashing up his house whom two of the Blue Lights cops must attempt to placate.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really know how it happened,” admits Dave of how he landed this high profile small screen role.

“I’ve got an acting agent who’s great, but I’m still very much a novice and haven’t done a lot. But she just said to me, ‘There’s a Blue Lights audition - get it in and see how you do’.

Bangor comedian Dave Elliott will play to his biggest hometown audience yet with his brand-new show Roleplay at the Open House Festival on August 19
Bangor comedian Dave Elliott

“I was a massive fan of the first series, so it was very exciting to try out for - but I definitely did not expect to get it. So when I did, it was a big surprise. I was a bit worried before it came out, but watching it back I actually wasn’t scundered for myself, which is pretty much all you can hope for.

“The whole experience was brilliant, and I would love to go back and do more. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, so with any luck they might find a reason for my character to come back in series three or four.”

Dave Elliott: Roleplay visits The Old Courthouse in Antrim (May 18), The Portico in Ards (June 8), Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen (June 14), Daly’s, Omagh (June 15), Brickwork, Derry (June 16), Marketplace Theatre, Armagh (June 21) and The Braid, Ballymena (June 22). linktr.ee/daveelliottcomedy